Archive for star wars canon

An Essential Universe

Posted in Fun, Opinion with tags , , , , on 17 March 2017 by Megan

or, 17 trEU books to read in 2017

Some reports say that a majority of people won’t read one book through this year. I’m not here to guilt you, even though I feel guilty enough if I don’t read at least 52 books a year — I just want to inspire you. I really enjoyed the list I put together last year, so I was inspired to do it again!  I’ve carefully selected these 17 realcanon reads to resonate especially with this year! Enjoy.

17. Allegiance by Timothy Zahn (10 years old!)

If your heart, like mine, is an Imperial-occupied zone, what better place to start than by picking up a novel that gives depth and faces to the men behind the white armor? It also introduces a young Mara Jade just starting off her career as the Emperor’s Hand.

16. Specter of the Past by Timothy Zahn

Jump straight to the end of the RebeLibrarian timeline, find out why I love Pellaeon with a passion, and watch both Luke and Mara succumb to human feeling and realize they’re falling in love. Read it with Vision of the Future it’s essentially a novel-length prologue. Bantam specifically commissioned this “Hand of Thrawn duology” to capstone the timeline, and, if you like, it makes a perfect and 100% satisfying ending to the Skywalker saga.

15. Union by Michael A. Stackpole

I’m not a fan of comics and I end the timeline at Vision of the Future, so you just know Union must be something special for me to grant it status! It’s a charming epilogue, a lighthearted story about how even Luke Skywalker’s wedding can’t be free of Imperial plots and drama.

14. The Bacta War by Michael A. Stackpole (20 years old!)

Stackpole’s X-Wing series is a crown jewel of the realcanon, and the development of Corran Horn along with Wedge Antilles’ team of crack pilots is not to be missed if you value your Star Wars soul. These books make me laugh and cry unapologetically no matter how many times I read them.

13. Tales from the Empire (20 years old!)

These anthologies are close to the beating heart of the EU, true expansions of characters and situations we see only vaguely or mentioned briefly on-screen. This brilliant collection includes a novella by Stackpole. Read it now!

Fifteen years ago, we got the second installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Honor that anniversary!

12. The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster

Returning to the Star Wars universe for the first time since 1978, and with his third and final offering to the universe, Alan Dean Foster explores the relationship between a maturing Obi-Wan and Anakin as they work with another master and Padawan. Remember Mace Windu saying that the two of them are recently returned from a border dispute on Anision? This is that dispute!

11. Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore

Although I never liked Salvatore and am never going to forgive him for his bizarre colorblind bungling in this novelization (with a redheaded Obi-Wan and red-eyed Jawas, it’s like he dropped acid before writing this thing…), the book is nevertheless a very important installment into the universe!

Now, forgive me if I mention Disney a few more times before I’m done here. I’ve saved the nine most significant books for last, and while four of them are celebrating 20 years, I admit that Disney doings are the primary reason I include them with such prominence.

10. Death Star by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry

If you want to know the trEUth about the Death Star’s construction and get a glimpse into what was happening on the other side during the events of A New Hope, trust Perry and Reaves to get you there! With bonus appearances by some of Reaves’ Pavan Cycle characters, Death Star delivers realcanon you won’t regret.

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7. Soldier for the Empire (20 years)
8.  Rebel Agent (20 years)
9. Jedi Knight by William C. Dietz

Kyle Katarn has a complex and compelling backstory, and this trilogy delves deep into his introduction to the rebellion, his first important mission for the same (aka stealing the Death Star plans), and his confrontation with the Inquisitor Jerec, the first Miralukan in realcanon. With breathtaking artwork and an awesome story, it’s an installment that deserves its stellar reputation.

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Han Solo is about to get a bad rap. A seriously bad rap. First 2015 had people saying he was dead. Next, rumor is they’re going say Disney came up with his origins all by themselves. Read on and be enlightened!

4. Han Solo at Stars End
5. Han Solo’s Revenge
6. Han Solo and the Lost legacy by Brian Daley

The very first tales of Han Solo appeared in 1979, penned by the same great mind that gave us the incredible radio adaptations of the Original Trilogy.

These books have undeniable historical significance and are a great deal of fun. Eighteen years before the controversy, Han brags about shooting first, and almost a quarter century before Crystal Skull, Han has an eerily similar adventure that even trashes a campus during a speeder chase! Read for the classics they are, the Daley trilogy won’t disappoint.

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And now! The number one books you should read this year — the three books you should read if you only read three books in 2017! —

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1. The Paradise Snare  (20 years)
2. The Hutt Gambit (20 years)
3. Rebel Dawn by A.C. Crispin

Read them before you can be brainwashed into thinking A.C. Crispen didn’t write the definitive edition of young Han Solo’s life! These books are three of the greatest in the entire EU. Who doesn’t love a good origin story? And the origins of how Han knows Wookiee; how he became a great pilot; how he met Chewbacca, Jabba, Lando, and Boba Fett; got the Corellian bloodstripe; and made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs is a nonstop thrill that will never disappoint. Ann Crispin, who died in 2013 less than six months before EU favorite Aaron Allston also passed, is by far the greatest female contributor to the EU. Applause!

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Top 10 EU Moments in Film

Posted in Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 9 March 2017 by Megan

The Star Wars Special Editions turn 20 years old this year, and thinking about these much-maligned, much-misunderstood installments to the Star Wars saga got me thinking about how they demonstrate a very important point.

Something you’ve heard me assert over and over is that to George Lucas, the EU was just as canon as his films. Now, people get off on tangents of “he didn’t think the EU was canon because he didn’t follow it,” but that’s absurd. He was the creator. Why should he follow someone else’s ideas? But that doesn’t mean he didn’t consider the ideas he authorized to be just as “true” as the films he made.

Lucas asserted this himself over and over. But actions speak louder than words. Here’s eight times George Lucas went out of his way to reference the EU in his films, demonstrating his belief that it was canon and “counted.”

Honorable mention: Prince Xizor

Did you know that the Prequel Trilogy used more models and miniatures than the Original Trilogy? Despite criticisms that they’re “all CGI” and “CGI heavy,” the PT actually won awards for its miniatures. In one such model, the Phantom Menace crew inserted a Xizor action figure among the filler for the crowd attending the Boonta Eve Podrace. This pretty obviously isn’t intended to be a canonical reference, but it’s fun and so I point it out.

10. Twi’leks and Rodians

Although both species were obviously Lucas’ creation — Rodians appearing first in 1977 (Greedo) and Twi’leks in 1983 (Oola) — they weren’t named until later in the EU. West End Games published The Star Wars Sourcebook in 1987, coining the word “Twi’lek,” and their 1989 Galaxy Guide 1 gave us “Rodian.” published by West End Games. Although neither word is ever spoken in any of the films, George Lucas used the names freely and they appear in production notes and interviews throughout production of the prequels.

(Bonus points: Rystáll Sant, pictured with the Twi’leks and Rodian dancer above, is part Theelin, a species that first appeared in Dark Empire.)

9. Bogden, Muun, Rishi, Tund

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These planets all appeared first in the EU in various places — Tund is oldest, from 1983’s Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka — and were used by George Lucas to seed the dialogue with the rich geography we could expect from a galaxy far, far away.

8. Force speed and Force grip

Force-users have special powers in video games, and some of those powers made it onto the silver screen. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon use Force speed to escape droidekas in The Phantom Menace, and Dooku uses Force grip against Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith.

7. Aurebesh

“Alien gobbledygook characters” appear in the films, but it was Stephen Crane who designed a legitimate, sensible alphabet with the characters for West End Games in 1994. The DVD editions of the film edit Aurebesh translations into places where English was originally seen, and the PT uses Aurebesh meaningfully as well.

6. Quinlan Vos

In an interview in 1999, George Lucas stated that he wanted the EU to pick up background characters and give them stories. He used Aurra Sing as a specific example — but Aurra Sing had an identity supplied by the film. Jan Duursema asked for permission, picked a random person out of the background, and created Quinlan Vos from him. He got two comic series and some other appearances in the EU before George Lucas picked him up for Revenge of the Sith. Although his scene never made it to filming, Obi-Wan Kenobi still mentions “Master Vos” in a briefing to Anakin.

5. The Outrider

It’s fitting that Shadows of the Empire should have so many references in the special edition: Steve Perry’s work was used to test whether the public was receptive to such a major project as a restored re-release and new trilogy. A New Hope SE is full of swoop bikes, labor droids, and other minor ephemera from Shadows and WEG sourcebooks, but the most notable of all is Dash Rendar’s Outrider, seen flying over Mos Eisley.

4. Double-bladed lightsaber

The first double-bladed lightsaber in Star Wars belonged to Exar Kun. It appeared in 1995, in Tom Veitch’s Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War 3, The Trial of Ulic Qel-Droma. The same weapon then arrived in the hands of Darth Maul four years later in The Phantom Menace.

3. Lightsaber deflecting lightning

Timothy Zahn first considered that a lightsaber could deflect Force lightning and asked Lucas if he could include it in his Thrawn Trilogy. The Maker approved, and the combat move first appeared in The Last Command in 1993. Apparently the Maker approved so much that he had Obi-Wan Kenobi do the same thing in Attack of the Clones in 2002.

2. Aayla Secura

Speaking of Quinlan Vos — Padawans get all the luck, don’t they? Jan Duursema and John Ostrander came up with Aayla for Quinlan’s apprentice and she appeared in Star Wars 19: Twilight 1 in 2000. George Lucas was so taken by the artwork created for her that he created scenes for her in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

1. Coruscant

The biggest of all the big tamales: Coruscant. George Lucas had created the galactic capital city-planet for A New Hope, but he called it Alderaan and budget prevented him from ever realizing it on screen. The WEG sourcebooks Zahn was asked to use for canon material simply called the capital “Imperial Planet,” so he chose a word to capture the image of a city planet glittering in the cosmos: Coruscant. The planet first appeared — nameless but known — in Return of the Jedi in 1997, but Lucas vindicated the entire EU as co-canon with his films when he designated the galactic capital Coruscant in 1999. And there was not a Star Wars heart in the place that didn’t burst with pride when we first heard Qui-Gon Jinn say, “I’m taking these people to Coruscant” and we all knew.

A New Visual Guide to Sentients

Posted in Questions with tags , , on 1 March 2017 by Megan

The most popular post on my blog by far is my “Visual Guide to Sentients.” I collected 65 of what I felt were the most significant races in Star Wars — it wasn’t very polished, and since it’s become so popular, I’ve decided to do an updated version with the 99 most significant races in Star Wars with their name and first appearance.

In order to be considered significant, a race must have more than one living member at the time of the Original Trilogy (no Yoda) and must appear in more than one sequence (or be vitally important in the single instance in which they appear).

Planetary origin is immaterial: Alderaanians, Bakurans, Corellians, etc. are all humans, so they will not appear separately on the list. Mandalorians, not being a race on their own, do not appear either.

INDEX

Advozse — Aleena — Anzat — Aqualish — Arcona
Barabel — Besalisk — Bith — Bothan
Caamasi — Cathar — Cerean — Chadra-Fan — Chagrian — Chiss — Clawdite
Devaronian — Drall — Dug — Duros
Elom — Elomin — Er’kit — Ewok
Falleen
Gammorean — Gand — Gen’daii — Geonosian — Gossam — Gotal — Gran — Gree — Gungan
Herglic — Human — Hutt
Iktotchi — Ishi Tib — Ithorian
Jawa
Kaleesh — Kaminoan — Kel Dor — Kissai — Kitonak — Klatoonian — Kubaz
Lannik
Mirialan — Miralukan — Massassi — Mon Calamari — Muun
Nautolan — Neimodian — Nikto — Nimbanel — Noghri — Nosaurian
Ongree — Ortolan
Pau’an — Phindian — Polis Massan
Quarren — Quermian
Rakata — Rattataki — Revwien — Rodian
Sand People — Selonian — Sith — Snivvian — Ssi-Ruuk — Stennes — Sullustan
Talz — Thisspiasian — t’landa Til — Togorian — Togruta — Toydarian — Trandoshan — Twi’lek
Ubese — Ugnaught — Utai
Verpine — Vodran
Weequay — Whiphid — Wookiee
Xexto
Yinchorri — Yuzzem
Zabrak — Zeltron

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Zahn Plot First

Posted in Opinion with tags , , , , on 10 June 2016 by Megan

EU fans and realcanon warriors have been disappointed and upset by remarks made at Awesomecon last weekend by Timothy Zahn. (Daily Dot interview here.)

First of all, Timothy Zahn did miss the point. I have to tell you, the way he’s behaving is exactly how pretty much all Star Wars fans would be behaving if the reboot had not demanded the decanonization of all prior Star Wars. As I addressed in last week’s open letter to Lucasfilm: reboots are common and they don’t make people mad. They don’t make people mad because they don’t threaten what people love or have invested in.

Understand this, there would be no problem whatsoever about Thrawn appearing in Rebels (for example) if Lucasfilm had not gone out of its way to declare Heir to the Empire non-canon. Declaring the EU non-canon and then cherry-picking “cool stuff” from it is as if you took your car in for an oil change, the mechanic told you the vehicle was totaled, and then you saw him cutting parts out of it to repair other vehicles. If that scenario would infuriate you, understand that’s why we’re infuriated about the EU.

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Zahn, like so many other fans, simply doesn’t seem to understand that Disney canon didn’t merely restart the timeline the way Star Trek (2009) did. It seems that, like so many fans, he thinks it’s only been bypassed. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins kept Scarecrow and Batman’s parents being murdered without declaring every pre-2005 incarnation of Batman “never canon,” so it makes sense to people that Disney would restart Star Wars without having any ruling on prior material. But that’s simply not what happened. That is what we’re angry about, Mr. Zahn — we’re not angry that they might use Thrawn in Rebels; we’re angry that they said “Thrawn never counted in the first place (but let’s just rip him off for spare parts…).”

I hope you can see the difference.

Secondly, even if he does understand the level of total decanonization that took place, he’s not upset. And he doesn’t want fans to be upset. “Lucasfilm owns it,” he kept repeating. “They have total control.” And while this is something he’s been saying since the 90s — “We’re playing in George Lucas’ driveway; we can’t be mad when he backs over our toys” — how can he be so zen? So resigned?

Could it possibly be because Star Wars already executed the biggest betrayal on him they possibly could? When the EU killed off Mara Jade in Legacy of the Force’s incessant quest to murder every classic character they could think of, do you think that could possibly have caused him to stop caring what they do? “They own it, they have total control,” he could have muttered ceaselessly to himself after finding out — after publication. They didn’t even have the common decency to tell him before the book came out. Authorial collaboration seemed to go the way of the dodo after NJO.  Nobody even thought to ask him, “hey, would your character do this?”

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When I talked with him at a con last year, he brought up her murder himself. His politically gracious attitude really seemed to waver at that point, after half an hour of wishing fans well at The Force Awakens, thanking and acknowledging them for comments like, “That should’ve been about Thrawn!” When the conversation got to Mara Jade, it seemed to me that he was struggling with a lot of anger. They killed her. They didn’t even tell him.

And maybe in killing her, they killed his ability to care about what happens to Star Wars in the future.

And maybe, just maybe, if all those trashy books that killed her are decanonized, maybe Disney can fix it and bring her back.

I’m not defending Disney. I’m not attacking you, if you’re some giant FotJ fan. I’m just saying, what if? What if he doesn’t care about the worst they can do, because Lucasfilm before Disney already did the worst it could to him?

Don’t blame him for not being upset about something that upsets you. He doesn’t have to be.

Understand this. The authors and actors do not have to be on our side. That does not determine the legitimacy of our position. We are fans. Fanatics. By definition, we care way too much about stuff. It’s not external; it’s never been external. It’s internal. It comes from within us.

Please understand that the real reason we are angry is that Disney said “none of it ever mattered.” Zahn says they aren’t going to come into our homes and take our books; no one believes that. No one is afraid of that. What we are upset by is that by saying the EU doesn’t count, never counted, Disney/Lucasfilm is telling us that we don’t count and never counted. It’s personal.

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So I want you to learn two things from this post. One, that we are upset about the EU being declared “not canon,” not about its being set aside for new material. And two, that there is some stuff Zahn said that we need to take to heart.

Calm down, relax. I appreciate your loyalty and your passion. But really, relax. It’s OK. It’ll be OK.

With as upset as everyone has been over this interview, those are some words we need to take to heart. It will be okay. Because Star Wars is never going to change. Star Wars canon is never going to change. No matter what Disney/Lucasfilm ever does or does not do, they cannot alter the heart of what Star Wars is. If you never hold Sword of the Jedi in your hand, the trEU will still exist as the only realcanon, ever.

Yes, we want Disney/Lucasfilm to grant the EU the legitimacy it deserves. Yes, it would be super smart for them to start selling new material set in “Legendsverse” as well as “Disneyverse.” But the bottom line is that Star Wars is not determined by external influence. I’m angry that Disney lies and calls their stuff “Star Wars” when it isn’t, but as long as we have the truth, we are more powerful than they are. So take his words in the spirit with which they were offered, and not the spirit with which trolls want to needle you with them.

Accept that Timothy Zahn and George Lucas are the two who gave us Star Wars, and that Star Wars 1976-2014 can never change, no matter what some random rodent emperor does.

And above all, never stop telling the rodent emperor the truth about what Star Wars is to us. Because if they never change their minds, never do what we want, at least we will always be able to say we never stopped asking.

Let Them Eat Canon,

Posted in Announcements, Opinion, Spotlight with tags , , on 3 June 2016 by Megan

or,What Do Those Billboard People Want, Anyway?
An open letter to Lucasfilm in response to the letter they’ve been replying to #GiveUsLegends correspondence.

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In pretty much every article that ever popped up describing the billboard and the fantastic dedication of fan love it represents, the authors were baffled about what “Give Us Legends” is about. You’d think it’d be straightforward. I mean, there’s even a press release on the site! But it’s not just the media — Lucasfilm itself has zero comprehension of what we’re asking for. Check out this letter received by some of our realcanon warriors:

And now, allow me to respond.

Dear Lucasfilm,

Thank you for sending letters back to the dedicated fans who spend time and postage on writing to you begging for the lives of Star Wars characters we all love. It’s amazing and exciting to be acknowledged.

Unfortunately, you have no idea what you’re acknowledging. This communications breakdown between us is why I think this schism in the fanbase is continuing to grow and hurting everyone involved.

You’ve probably heard this famous story. A naive French aristocrat was told, “The peasants have no bread to eat!” This young woman, completely unable to understand the reality of peasant life, merrily replied, “Then let them eat cake!”

No, it probably wasn’t Marie Antoinette who said that, but I’m not here to clear up historical misapprehensions — I’m here to clear up your misapprehension, Lucasfilm. Because I think this conversation has taken place in your offices a time or two since 2014.

Ever since you Order 66’d the Universe, announcing that more than 90% of Star Wars’ unprecedented and record-breaking canon was no longer canon due to your new movies coming out, you have been trying to throw us the bone that “some stuff is going to get integrated.”

For two years, you’ve seemed baffled that we aren’t responding to that with the unbridled enthusiasm you expected. You apparently refuse to ask why we don’t like that, because you keep throwing it in our face over and over again. “We’re going to recycle it. It’s not going away. We’re going to take cool stuff and integrate it. Why aren’t you excited? What is wrong with you?”

Did you ever stop to think that maybe we aren’t excited about you poaching the trEU (that’s True Expanded Universe) because we’re angry about what you did to it in the first place?

"Recycling"

“Recycling”

Fans say “Give us legends,” “We want legends,” “Bring back legends,” but it’s clear that you don’t understand what they’re saying. I’ll be honest: I don’t think they really understand what they’re saying, either.

Because continuation is a side issue. It’s not the main thing. Cutting off the story isn’t where you goofed, Lucasfilm.

Declaring it non-canon is where you goofed.

Take a look at every other reboot and remake in history. You — I mean, your master Disney has done remakes before and not gotten this response. Why? What’s the difference?

The difference is, when Christopher Nolan made Batman Begins, he didn’t issue a press release before the premier saying, “This is super exciting. NONE of the Batman stuff you knew and loved is canon anymore, but I’ve integrated all the best stuff into my new movie, which isn’t a reboot even though it’s meant to replace everything that came before. Actually, none of the Batman stuff that came out until now was canon anyway. Enjoy!”

When Star Trek (2009) hit theaters, it included a bit of timey-wimey whitewash to very graphically emphasize that it took place in an alternate timeline, but Paramount didn’t feel the need to tell all the world’s Trekkers that all prior Star Trek canon was rendered moot and had never, actually, been canon in the first place.

Are you seeing the difference? You’re denying our universe the legitimacy it is owed.

Understand this. If you had said “No, the new movies aren’t going to follow the EU,” no one would have been surprised (Abrams set that precedent with Trek 09), but more importantly, no one would have fought you. People would’ve seen the movie out of curiosity. Pretty much nobody would’ve bothered picketing it because it wouldn’t have been a threat.

Your “nucanon” is a threat to us, Lucasfilm. It’s a threat because you’re taking away the legitimacy of a canon that made your current life possible, replacing it, and treating us like we’re idiots for not loving the decision.

This is bad. It’s bad customer service. It’s bad franchise/fandom relation. Do you see why we’re so insulted when you say that you’re going to cherry-pick the stuff you like and “bring it back”? It’s because you threw it in the trash, said it never counted, and then you’re basically plagiarizing it.

It’s as if the Empire blew up Alderaan, told the people of Alderaan it was for their own good, and then started processing what was left of the planet into cheap furniture to sell back to them.

That’s why continuation is important but it’s not the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is that you’re lying to us all. Fix it. Make it right, Lucasfilm. It’s not too late!

All you need to do is say, “Yes, Star Wars 1976-2014 is canon, but it’s a separate timeline from the canon of 2015 and after.” People won’t be confused, I promise. Nobody watches Star Trek Into Darkness and is baffled about how it fits with Deep Space 9.

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We get it!

We’re smart. We’re geeks; it’s our defining characteristic. We can figure it out. And then instead of fans spending time and money trying to get your attention to right this wrong, those fans might start dedicating time and attention to checking out your alternate timeline.

Now, I said continuation is important. It is important. A lot of fans feel that continuation is the heart of the issue, which is why there’s all this confusion. But hear me out. Understand that granting us LEGITIMATE CANON STATUS is what you need to do to fix this, but that continuing the storyline is a great idea because it will completely double your profits.

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Do you know how many fans are saying they would try Lords of the Sith if they only had Sword of the Jedi, too? Do you care? You should. You think it’s more trouble than it’s worth monitoring two timelines? I promise, the EU has been self-policing for decades. Give Leland Chee his job back, fire up the holocron, and for pete’s sake give them their Sword of the Jedi.

I can guarantee you that your profits will soar, and that fans, set at ease that the canon they invested in before is solid and available, will be willing and maybe even eager to explore alternate universe options. Star Wars Infinities were always popular. I promise, after all these decades of X-Men, geeks know how to process and keep alternate universes separate.

Think about it.

Sincerely yours,
Rebel till I die,

The Star Wars Realcanon RebeLibrarian.

Game Time Started

Posted in Fun, Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 25 May 2016 by Megan

4A review of Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) which I have officially been playing for exactly one year today.

This is how Star Wars has gone for me: 1997-2005, Oh my gosh Star Wars is the most awesome thing ever and I swear I will know everything about it that was ever created or published because knowledge is power and I will be the most powerful Star Wars fan ever. 2005-2011, Education is distracting and anyway all that new Star Wars stuff is crap written by people who don’t know jack diddly about Star Wars. I know better than all of them so I can’t be bothered to read their stupid ignorance anymore. 2011-2012, New renaissance! Life is good and wow I missed a bunch of Star Wars stuff and need to catch up. 2012, My life is in the dumpster and to top it off, Star Wars has been destroyed. I give up and quit. 2013- New new renaissance! I will NOT be told by a mouse to get out of my fandom! Star Wars is MINE.

This includes games. I never really played Star Wars games, either because I never had computers that could handle the graphics, or Sims took up all of my non-school hours. Dark Forces II was a perennial favorite, but frankly the way everybody went on about Knights of the Old Republic had me pretty confident I was going to ignore it forever. (I don’t like things people go on about.) I didn’t know The Old Republic was separate. I got sick of hearing KOTOR this that and the other and determined never to play.

And then Disney took everything away. Disney made me reevaluate Star Wars. Also, GOG sold games I could install on Windows 7. So I bought KOTOR and decided to give it a try. And then I found out that The Old Republic was something different.

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Somebody from the Star Wars group encouraged me to get an account, so I chipped into the game with extreme caution. I logged in, did the first scene, walked out into the cantina, and immediately had a panic attack.

It was huge. It was mind-bogglingly, indescribably huge. And every person I saw was a real person who could see me, too. And they were all judging me. I hadn’t even wanted to ask the NPC in KOTOR for the tutorial because I thought he’d think I was an idiot; how could I handle an entire game full of a hundred real life people actively actually judging me walking into walls, getting killed, and behaving with general incompetence?

Sweet relief, the phone rang and I logged out. I genuinely thought at the time that I probably would never log back in again. So my one-year-ago-to-the-day experience was quite truncated.

Funny thing was, I couldn’t stop thinking about that initial cutscene. As much as everything else made me panic, the fact that I could click on buttons and my character actually said real words filled me with awe. Every other game was stuff like “ask about X” and the person replied; there was no first-person dialogue from me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with interest to know what my character would say. So I tiptoed back in.

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She’s a Zabrak because as f2p, I didn’t have any other nonhuman options. I’ve always come up with insane backstory for every character I’ve ever played — seriously, the hours I used to spend as a kid playing Alley Cat, I spent the whole time coming up with complex histories for the cats. So by the time I’d finished creating Anmaradi, she had a rich history — and I truly intended for her to be me if I existed in the era of TOR.

She made me feel like a badass. It wasn’t easy to learn, especially in pre-KOTFE days, especially for someone who had barely even heard the term “MMORPG” before. But the cutscenes kept me coming back and for awhile, I played just cutscene to cutscene.

And then we decided to form a guild. The group expressed interest mainly in a Republic side guild, so I had to make a pub side character. Anmaradi acquired a brother — a Zabrak smuggler with a grudge against the Empire.

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By then, I realized that I was enjoying the game and that I didn’t like KOTOR. I broke my neck to get internet connection in my new apartment because all I wanted to do was play TOR. And with my first long weekend, I bought a hardcopy of the game from Amazon for $9 and finally got to play as a subscriber.

Which made me really want to make a Twi’lek.

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And then we were collaborating with another guild so I decided making an ambassador alt would be a good idea. And because I had cartel coins — and didn’t imagine I’d ever have another use for them — and I like Sith and didn’t really want to play a Jedi anyway, I decided for the ultimate joke, I’d make a Sith Jedi.

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Safe to say by the time Vulkeen rolled onto the scene, I was addicted. The music was incredible. The graphics were incredible. I was still addicted to cutscenes. There was so much to do, so much to explore.

When I found out that there were Chiss specific interactions, at least for bounty hunters and agents, I embarked on a new quest — to play every class as a Chiss. And just like that, I’d gone from “not logging back in again” to “gonna play the agent and that’s it” to “four characters is plenty” — to “I’m going to play all 8 classes twice.”

It’s addictive. It’s stunning. I’ve never encountered anything like this game before, but I don’t think that’s why it’s so breathtaking. The story, graphics, characters, companions, gear, everything is made with such attention to detail, such attention to Star Wars — real Star Wars, the way George Lucas originally envisioned it — even though it’s 3,000 years before the Battle of Yavin IV, it feels like Star Wars.

I laugh. I cry. I ride tauntauns and fight with lightsabers. The books seem more vivid when I read them, because I know how it feels to fight my way down a corridor of shock troops. I’ve looked up at a Hutt from his beast pit; I’ve told an emperor his overconfidence will be his undoing. I’ve walked a path of pure light and of pure dark and discovered how each can be painful and difficult. I’ve made friends, lost them, avenged them, married them.

And I’m not even halfway through.

TOR is a great gift. Thanks to the Star Wars group person who got me into the game. Thanks to the people who made the game. Thanks to swtorfamily on Twitter.

And thanks a bit to Peter Cushing’s Ghost who caused me to discover another 40% of the game I’d utterly been missing, because she got an account in January and I discovered just how awesome the social aspect of the game can really be.

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Love.

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Get social.

I now have 13 total “toons” with at least three more in planning. My first has 6 days, 3 hours, 8 minutes of play time, while my second has 5 days, 14 hours, 58 minutes on the second. After racking up 48 days, 17 hours, 56 minutes of total play time in one year (that’s roughly 40% of all non-working, non-sleeping hours!), I couldn’t ask for more from a game 💝

16 Star Wars Books You Should Read in 2016

Posted in Fun, Opinion with tags , , , , on 13 May 2016 by Megan

And unlike the pitiful Disney “17 Villains” list, I won’t have to scrape any barrels to come up with 16 satisfying realcanon reads for the year.

Yes, halfway through Maul (May) is a weird time to give you a list of books to read for the year. But I’m weird, so that fits just fine. Actually, I was inspired by something I saw on Twitter today and thought, “People love lists, and this would be a great topic for a list!” List posts are extremely trendy, so I’ll try to give this a clickbaity promo line and go from there.

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16. Jedi Search
15. Dark Apprentice
14. Champions of the Force

Together, this 1994 trilogy makes up the real Star Wars: Episode VIII as Luke Skywalker battles demons from his run-on with the Dark Side and founds the Jedi school Yoda urged him to create all the way back in Episode VI. Mon Mothma is poisoned and the Sun Crusher is out to destroy whole star systems while a deranged Imperial tries to kidnap Anakin Solo and turn him into a new model Darth Vader.

13. The Truce at Bakura 

If you want to know what happened after Endor, what the day after Return of the Jedi‘s Ewok party was like, then Kathy Tyers has the whole thing right here for you — since 1993.

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12. Darksaber
11. Planet of Twilight

I know these are both part of the so-called “Callista trilogy” but I will never recommend anyone read Children of the Jedi, ever. Darksaber, however, is one of my favorite books. Soviet-esque Hutts attempt to build a superweapon among their own greedy shortcuts; Crix Madine is a war hero; and Luke gives his weird girlfriend a clip show of the best planets of the original trilogy. Planet of Twilight has some cool moments, a dark side vision of Leia, and the character Leigious Vorn to make it worthwhile.

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10. Ambush at Corellia
9. Assault on Selonia
8. Showdown at Centerpoint

This underrated Corellian Trilogy, which joined us in 1995 but which became my first Star Wars book ever in December 1997, is in my opinion a must-read for every treu fan. A chance to glimpse into Han’s past and the reclusive Corellian system turns into a disaster for the Solo family, as an evil cousin takes Han hostage and a sinister archaeology project flings the three kids into their first big adventure. Also, Lando hires Luke to help find him a wife, and lightsaber-wielding Mara and Leia destroy a government building! Non-stop thrills.

Home stretch! These are books with significant birthdays this year —

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7. Star Wars, From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker

Not really Expanded Universe because it doesn’t expand, this adaptation of the 1977 film is historically interesting and significant, not least of all because it’s the first Star Wars anyone in our galaxy ever experienced when it was published in December of 1976. It turns a distinguished 40 years old this year.

6. Jedi Twilight

This ten-year-old novel may be the first book in the Coruscant Nights trilogy (2) (3), but it’s the fourth book in Michael Reeves’ Pavan Saga, so bonus points if you read Shadow Hunter, Battle Surgeons, and Jedi Healer first! Otherwise, it tells the story of a Jedi in hiding who has become a private eye in the wake of Order 66.

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5. Outbound Flight

Another one turning ten this year: Timothy Zahn’s own prequel to Heir to the Empire, showing how the Chiss made first contact with the Republic and showing us what a lovable old cuss the real Jorus C’boath was in life. Thrawn’s first appearance.

4. The New Rebellion

A book with a mixed reputation, to be sure, New Rebellion is also turning 20 this year and deserves to be remembered for the character of Brakiss, who could have been so much more, and the eerie post-bombing chaos of the Senate chamber. (Who else freaked out when Leia was bleeding from the ears?) The skull-faced villain has his moments. It should not be discarded simply because of an over-the-top scene of Luke lightsaber dueling Mr. Bubble’s evil cousin. Nope! Worth reading.

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3. Tales of the Bounty Hunters

Bounty hunters — we do need that scum! Visit arguably the best of the short story anthologies from 1996 as some favorite Star Wars authors tell the tales of our favorites, Dengar, IG-88, 4-LOM and Zuckuss, Bossk, and even Boba Fett!

2. Rogue Squadron 

One of my favorites of all time, the perfect book for you if you’re bored with the Big Three and/or Force users and bounty hunting scum just aren’t up your alley. Top Gun x-wing flyboys show you what it’s like to be a real Rogue.

And the #1 book you should read this year —

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Shadows of the Empire turned 20 years old on April 1 (no kidding!). This book is wildly important in the history of Star Wars. You can catch my full review here!